If the gold medal heroics of Michael Phelps has left you with a burning desire to emulate his success without having to actually get off the couch, EA Sports may just have some good news for you in the future.
Phelps, who won eight gold medals at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, showed up for the debut of EA Sports’ Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 in Manhattan, making a beeline for the VIP room to meet Woods. But according to a Crispy Gamer report, Phelps was an unannounced guest at the party, leading to speculation that he might be talking about a game deal of his own. It’s all rumor at this point, and it’s very possible that Phelps was just out looking for a party, but the EA machine is a purposeful beast, and there are few names in sports right now bigger than Phelps’.
The question mark, of course, is what exactly a Michael Phelps game could offer that would make it worth playing. I’m having a hard time visualizing much to it beyond the old Track & Field arcade game from Konami, which gamers of a certain vintage may recall was played by rapidly pounding two alternating buttons to make your athlete run faster. (True masters of the game employed pens or combs held in a super-secret grip to “automate” the second button-press at ultra-high speeds.) It was fun back in the day, but I’m not so sure that kind of gameplay would hold water 25 years later.
On the other hand, Phelps’ eight gold medals establishes him as the “greatest Olympian ever,” giving him a unique and, at least until he’s caught doping, unassailable cachet in just about any market he wants to enter. As the article points out, a game based on Phelps’ exploits in the pool would be “too thin” as a standard console release, but as a quick and cheap downloadable, it could capitalize on his fame without boosting gamers’ expectations too high. It’s an opportunity for EA Sports to cash in now, and perhaps even more importantly, establish the groundwork for a deeper and more durable relationship in the future.